Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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The meaning of life

So sayeth I, who knoweth all today:

Recent conversation on rec.arts.mystery about the function of ennui in fiction (and if that's not a phrase with samba rhythm, I don't know what is) got me thinking, because I know the meaning of life.

Or, at least, the meaning of "meaning."

There's no ennui when your shoulder's against a huge rock and your feet are trying to find enough purchase to PUSH. The meaning of life is: Move this damn rock.

If ennui is the absence of meaning, and meaning is present during struggle, then (says 7th-grade logic class) ennui cannot exist during a struggle.

So: Shoulder to rock. Now push.

If the goal is the absence of ennui, it doesn't matter what rock. Any rock. An ennui-ridden person can't predict what will be "most meaningful," since it's an ennui-ridden person, for god's sake. However, it's easy to know what will be the most rewarding in hindsight. It'll be the biggest rock you managed to move.

No rock, no meaning.

Internal struggle doesn't count. It's got to be you against some part of the real world, or you'll just create a self-devouring rent in spacetime which emits bursts of gamma whineyness and collapses into itself.

I can't defend any of this except to say, "It works." Meaning is in the struggle. Ennui is in the lack of one.

"Move this damn rock," sayeth the great Me, knower of all things. Now I have to go or my wife will be mad.

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